This early 14th century image of the Virgin Mary by Duccio di Buoninsegna is titled: Madonna and Child with Six Angels. It is lovely, isn't it? The Mother of God looks out at us, while the Divine Child looks to his mother. He holds onto her veil tightly with his right hand while reaching for his Mother's hand with the other. Six admiring angels look down on the scene while leaning over the edge of heaven.
In a series of comments off of other posts this week, some of us have talked about prayer and the world's problems. I acknowledge that we are powerless before most of it: terrorism in Europe, the great divide we find ourselves in here, the threats to the global climate, corruption in leadership, the militarization of our planet, the refugee crisis...
Saint Francis said, "I can't do everything, but I can do something." I have a friend whose husband is in a nursing home which she visits daily. Much of the day she spends stopping in on the other residents along the corridor and doing what she can to lighten the load for the over-burdened staff. The family dog comes along, delighting everyone. "I can't do everything, but I can do something."
As for the rest? My prayer-holding heart can bring before heaven the whole human family which inhabits this weary planet. Here is a prayer to the Mother of God titled: Having No Other Help. The prayer acknowledges our ultimate powerlessness and limitation. I like prayers that "feel" something. Buoninsegna's interfacing Mary seems to invite this prayer. Does the prayer effect any change? That's not really for me to know. For me, it is enough to offer the prayer and to leave the rest to God.
We have no other help.
We have no other hope than thee, O Lady!
Help us, for in you we have placed our hope,
and you we praise,
We are your servants,
let us not be put to shame.